Most people begin their career in journalism as a trainee reporter writing up wedding reports and agricultural show results, but I had loftier aims.
Fiercely ambitious, my first foray into publishing saw me sidestep such junior roles as I walked straight into the editorship of a prestigious publication based right on my doorstep.
With its tasteful mauve masthead and mix of scoops and features, I felt sure the Monthly Mercury had a winning formula.
Admittedly, the print run of one and readership of three meant it was never going to trouble The Times, but everyone has to start somewhere.
I was aged nine, or ten, and determined to become a press baron, having been inspired by my literary hero Jennings who had set up a school magazine armed only with an alphabet of rubber stamps, an inkpad and a pair of tweezers.
Though I had no access to such luxuries, there were some nice felt-tipped pens and a couple of letter stencils hidden away in dad’s study.
And so the ambitiously titled Monthly Mercury (there only was ever one edition, which still resides in a box in the loft) was born. Made up of pieces of A4 paper, stapled together, it contained news, letters (all written by me) and a Nature Notes column.
My press-ganged readership (mam, dad and grandma) agreed it was the finest publication never to hit the newsstands.
The Monthly Mercury came to mind this week when I read, with a sigh, that the last typewriter to be built in the UK had come off the production line at Brother in North Wales.
Unsurprisingly, demand has slumped in this digital era, and there are simply not enough people buying such utilitarian devices these days.
What now seems rather old fashioned appeared excitingly high-tech to me when my parents presented me with a second-hand typewriter so that I could abandon the felt-tips and produce slicker publications.
It was a proper, grown-up typewriter – an Olivetti, with a two-tone ribbon if I remember correctly – and I was instantly hooked.
Of course, it had its flaws. My 10-year-old fingers grew sore after only a few minutes of striking the keys and I was generally to hasty when keying in my stories, resulting in a clutch of letters jamming together a fraction of an inch from the paper.
I also made a lot of mistakes that required several strikes of the X key in the same spot to turn that rogue consonant into a much more acceptable inky splodge.
My second effort at a magazine – which I can barely remember and which may never have even been finished – combined stencilled headlines with (to my mind) professional-looking typewritten copy below. The quality of the content was almost secondary to the realism of the print. The typewriter brought me closer to that adult world that all 10-year-olds strive to join.
As usual, my long-suffering little sister was made to join in with the venture. Being a typical older sibling and something of a dictatorial editor, I probably gave her some junior position in my publishing empire.
Despite her key role, she never seemed quite as enthusiastic about the journalism business as I was. Can’t think why.
Nothing remains of that short-lived adventure with the typewriter. After my sister finally passed her admirably high boredom threshold and stubbornly refused to play ‘magazines’ any more, I gave up on publishing for a while and had a go at one of my many other career options. I was keen on becoming a tramp for a time, but that never worked out.
Even though that early flirtation with publishing was brief, I had evidently caught the bug.
When I joined Dalesman as editor last week I was fulfilling a dream that began all those years ago with issue one (and only) of the Monthly Mercury.
Some things have changed – I no longer have to use felt-tips and a typewriter, and the readership is slightly higher than three – but with so many resources at my disposal and no reluctant sister in sight, I will have to make sure to finish more than one edition this time around!

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